The beard, the self-delusion, the pseudo-proverbs used to convey great insight. Jeremy Corbyn is the David Brent of our day. It came to me as I watched Jeremy Corbyn: The Outsider, a Vice News documentary going behind the scenes in The Office of the Labour leader.
Seems easy: invite in a journalist who is a paid-up Labour member from a website from outside the hated “mainstream media” to secure positive coverage. This is no stitch-up. It’s worse than that. Like Ricky Gervais’s spoof, it just holds the camera up to Mr Corbyn and shows viewers what he says and does.
Most Labour MPs are supportive, he says, though “some are harder fish to catch”. His leadership is “one that tries to include people”, adding: “That is what I do.” Classic Brent. He ends a meeting with “OK guys”. Now, go and get the guitar.
A young Jeremy is shown delivering this gem: “We are a socialist party and there are social solutions to the problems and the solution is socialism at the end of the day.” He tries to paint himself as a chilled-out entertainer. “I’m not that interested in personalities,” Mr Corbyn insists. While signing photos of himself. With a gold pen.
He also signs books, bottles and bathroom tiles. “When I get a good crop of apples from my allotment in September I am going to sign the apples,” he says. “Signed apples.”
The break-out star is Gavin Sibthorpe, who ensures that The Leader is on time and dressed appropriately. “My mum is very proud.” He has kept a positive comment about Mr Corbyn wearing evening dress properly to a state banquet. “That’s good s***.”
While door-knocking, Mr Corbyn has gone into No 58. Waiting outside, Mr Sibthorpe delivers an innuendo to make Kenneth Williams proud: “A woman asked him to go in. He has been in a while so I am guessing she has put on a full spread.”...
It hasn't done too much for the party's internal harmony, either. Seumas Milne's paranoid vision of his own team supposedly leaking Labour's PMQ preparations to the Tories has produced the predictable furious response from Iain McNicol, Labour’s general secretary. Unions are now demanding clarification from McNicol. It's all escalating nicely.
Seumas doesn't look too happy:
Perhaps he's regretting ever having left the safe space of the Guardian, where he could write endless Putin apologetics without having to put up with prying cameras being shoved in his face.
And here's David Aaronovitch (Times again, £):
The problem is easily put but, for me, only agonisingly resolved. If Mr Corbyn, his shadow chancellor John McDonnell and his close entourage are the people they have been claiming to be for 40 years, then they cannot be trusted with power. Anyone believing that would have some kind of moral duty not just to deny them his or her vote but (oh God) to give that vote to whoever had the best chance of defeating them.
I sometimes pinch myself as I remind myself of the Corbyn claque’s fairly immediate past. What “Hands Off Venezuela” event was complete without the honorary president, Mr McDonnell, lauding Hugo Chávez’s increasingly authoritarian disaster as being a model not just for Latin America but for Britain? What Cuba Solidarity event went ungraced by Zeppelins of Corbynian verbiage about the awful Americans with not even a cat’s poot devoted to the complete denial of political rights by the Castro regime?
That stuff about Mr C calling Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” was not some cheap shot or shallow debating point. It is Corbyn’s “just talking” rebuttal that was unconvincing. Consider the willingness of the Corbyn camp to “just talk” to Provisional Sinn Fein during its bombing pomp, and then compare it to how Mr McDonnell this week criticised the new London mayor, Sadiq Khan, for sharing a Remain platform with the British prime minister. Compare too Mr Corbyn’s authentic fury with a Jewish Guardian columnist with his deadpan reaction to Ken Livingstone’s insistence that Hitler was a Zionist.
I do not trust Mr Corbyn with our foreign policy, with our alliances, with our defence. I think he leans more towards Vladimir Putin than to any likely US president and that he would, if he could, run down the same armed forces that he has more than once suggested are redundant. I am not theologically wedded to Trident, but I do not believe that any saving achieved by its scrapping under a Corbyn government would be spent on filling the gap that Trident would leave. Everything that he has said since 9/11 convinces me that he imagines the West to be to blame for terrorist attacks on its citizens (or, indeed, on anyone else’s) and would want to frame his policy accordingly....